ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — September is National Recovery Month, a month to break stigma and celebrate the journeys of those recovering from mental health and substance use disorders.

The Rochester nonprofit organization, East House, has been empowering people living in recovery since 1966. They offer a variety of programs and services to the community while supporting people in a safe environment.

“We have community residencies where they’re 24 hours staffed, and individuals can get all the support they need from support groups, peers that are part of the program, and we have financial case management services and wraparound services to help them become successful in their journey to recovery,” said Leslie Alvarado-Fischer, the Director of Admissions and Financial Case Management at East House.

A big part of National Recovery Month is breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and substance use disorders, which is something East House plays a big role in.

“People can break the stigma of substance use disorders and mental health by allowing folks the opportunity to receive the services that they need in community settings that could benefit them and that they’re familiar with,” Alvarado-Fischer said.

She adds a lot of people disregard those who suffer from substance use disorders or mental health illnesses.

“We are amongst individuals in our day-to-day lives, in our jobs, right? It’s not just the clients that we work with who suffer from these disorders, it’s our everyday people, and the more and more we can normalize that, the easier will be for individuals who are suffering from them chronically to receive the services that they need,” Alvarado-Fischer said.

To celebrate people living positive lives in recovery, East House is hosting an in-person “Hope & Recovery” luncheon this Friday. The event will also be live streamed for people to watch at home.

“Our keynote speaker is going to be Beverly Johnson,” said Beth Hershel, the Vice President of Development and Community Relations at East House. “She is really an icon. She’s a supermodel, the first African American who was on the cover of Vogue, really helped to change the industry, the fashion industry, and she’s a trailblazer.”

“She has an incredible story: entrepreneur, advocate, author, and she has struggled with substance use and mental health disorders in her life, so she’s gonna be there to share with us. We’re super excited.”

The goal of the luncheon event is to continue breaking the stigma surrounding mental health and encouraging people to share their own stories.

“Seeing people, certainly a celebrity, but just people in general who are there talking about their story, normalizing it, certainly celebrating hope and recovery,” Hershel said.

“Recovery is not a straight path. It’s a journey, and it’s a lifelong journey. And so we really tried to normalize that and share stories at the luncheon and also raise funds, really critical funds that we need at East House for our programs and services.”

The luncheon is on Friday, Sept. 30 at noon. at the Harro East Ballroom. To learn more about the event or to donate, you can click here.